Monday, November 16, 2015

Grapple on the Gridiron Was Awesome

I flew up from Florida this past weekend to attend the Iowa vs. Oklahoma State wrestling meet at Kinnick Stadium. Being at the football stadium, it was dubbed Grapple on the Gridiron. It was totally awesome, and I cannot recommend it enough.

Having an outdoor wrestling meet during the middle of November in Iowa is a risky proposition, but things turned out shockingly well for everyone. The weather was between 50 and 60 degrees with nothing but sunshine as there was not a cloud in the sky. Since there was also a football game featuring the #5 team in the nation taking on one of their most hated rivals, parking could have been a severe issue, but they opened up lots a little ways away from the stadium and set up a shuttle service to get fans to the meet. I was concerned it'd be a total mess, so we got there early, but things really couldn't have run smoother.

But logistics are boring. Wrestling is anything but. Still, this is not a sport with a lot of glitz and glamour. I didn't expect much showmanship in introductions, but I was pleasantly surprised. Before the wrestling began, Metallica blared from the speakers and Thomas Gilman, Iowa's 125 pound wrestler (who could kick all of our asses), came sprinting out as fire shot out of pyrotechnics like he was The Demon Kane. I was so jacked up I could have roundhoused kicked a kitten. Then the rest of the team came strolling out casually as fire shot up around them, so it had more of a corporate Kane feel to it.

But the reason wrestling is so great is that it is a one-on-one battle of wills that is truly compelling to watch. People who understand the basics of scoring in wrestling and can follow along usually become passionate about following the sport, and although it translates well to television, it is one of the most fun sports to attend live in person. The action is fast-paced, and honestly, some of the most fun moments of being in the crowd were when they were actually between action, but we'll get to that later. One of the great things about wrestling is you get to utilize the oo sound in yelling, which is the best thing to yell. I mean the Cowboys had Moose, the Packers have Kuhn, but every single wrestling meet has TWO, which is incredibly fun to yell when there is a takedown.

And luckily, Iowa had plenty of takedowns. And you bring in over 42,000 people in to a wrestling meet and give a good amount of them some alcohol in their system from tailgating, you're going to have a raucous crowd. As I said earlier, the best moments were probably in between the action. A few of the Oklahoma State wrestlers were absolutely gassed in their matches, as they had no energy and were doing everything they could to just hold on. The most hilarious moment was in the first match was when Oklahoma State's Eddie Klimara was slow to get back to the center of the mat, and Thomas Gilman gave him a shove to the back to help him get there as soon as possible. The Oklahoma State were (rightly) irate, and the Iowa crowd absolutely loved it, because Iowa is BY FAR the dirtiest team in the nation. I 100% understand why other schools hate Iowa, but they're my team, and I love them for their, uh, questionable tactics.

But the best part was definitely watching Oklahoma State wrestlers be slow to get back to the center and try to use every trick they could to stall to help them regain some energy when they were exhausted. I mean, don't get me wrong, it was frustrating to watch as an Iowa fan. But as the Iowa fans erupted in boos anytime an Oklahoma State wrestler was slow to get back to the center of the mat, it dawned on me how amazing it is that college sports allow nearly 50,000 people to tell a 20-year-old college student what a piece of shit he is for being tired. God Bless America.

Overall, it was an awesome experience. I was able to take my Dad to his first wrestling meet, and we had a great time, and I'll definitely be looking to do it again next year (and yeah, considering how huge of a success it was, I can't imagine them not trying to do it again next year). As for the results, the meet itself was back-and-forth, but there were a lot of high scoring matches, and the #4 Iowa Hawkeyes edged out the #1 Oklahoma State Cowboys by a score of 18-16. After that, I thought it was really cool that the University of Iowa let the football team use the wrestling stadium for their game against Minnesota. Iowa won that too, and the world is a better place for it.

Go Hawks!


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